Vikings basketball has returned.
The official start of the new season is Friday, Nov. 3, when the Vikings play against Daemen University in Langley, British Columbia. The team’s first five games are on the road, with the first home game on Nov. 14 against Hawai‘i Pacific.
Head Coach Tony Dominguez said the team has potential to go far. However, while Dominguez can make adjustments and edit lineups, he said their success is mostly up to the players.
”It’s not just going out and playing,” he said. “They've got to come to the bench and be prepared to be a good teammate. If everyone's kind of oaring in the right direction, then you'll see some momentum and you'll see us winning some games. So that's what we work on, is character development.”
The 2023-24 roster brings two new transfers from abroad. This offseason, the Vikings added 7-footer Janko Drammeh from Dusseldorf, Germany and 6-foot-7 forward Louis Grante-Halliday from London, England.
Will Wilson, a 6-foot-4 transfer guard, averaged 27 points and nearly 7 rebounds per game for Mt. Hood Community College last season. Leading the league in scoring, Wilson was named the Northwest Athletic Conference Southern Region Player of The Year in 2022-23.
“We want to play up-tempo and offensively. We want to be aggressive,” Dominguez said. “If you watch [the] Golden State [Warriors] play, when they're moving the ball, no matter how good your team is defensively, it’s hard to guard.”
Sophomore forward Charlie Dietiker said he’s found a niche on the team as a communicator.
“Every team needs a vocal leader, and a leader by example," he said. "It's not always the best player on the team. There always needs to be someone who's making some kind of noise and telling guys where to go.”
While Dietiker’s role is known to him, many players will have to fill bigger roles than what they had last season.
One player that is expected to take a jump and build off a previously incredible season is forward BJ Kolly. Last year, he was the first Viking to ever be named GNAC Freshman of The Year. Kolly said he is excited to show that there is even more to his game than what he showcased last season.
“What inspires me to play basketball is my genuine love for the game,” Kolly said in a message. “I have been playing since I was 6, I love the grind, the ups and the downs, the chaos basketball brings. I’m just a hooper.”
Jonathan Ned is another returning starter who is looking forward to the start of the season.
“I'm gonna go out there and play with maximum effort for my team,” Ned said. “Do the best I can do on the court, and then cheer my teammates on when I'm not on the court.”
In the annual GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll, the Vikings ranked fourth out of 10. Last year, the Vikings finished 15-13, a record they hope to improve this season.
“I expect this team to play hard,” Assistant Coach AJ Albritton said. “I expect this team to play fast, and I expect this team to play together. I think if we do those three things, then come conference season or non-conference season, I think we'll give ourselves a really good chance to win every single game that we play.”
Kai Johnson is the third returning starter from last year. Johnson is a 6-foot-4 guard who Dominguez said is a first-team-level player. Johnson agrees with Albritton’s optimistic outlook on the start of the season. He said the team is completely locked in on winning the league and that they have set high expectations for themselves as individuals and for the team as a whole.
“Overall, the work we have all been putting in together this preseason has me excited to get out there and get out [on] the court with my boys,” Johnson said. “We know we have the pieces we need to be one of the best teams in [Division] II basketball and we are excited to show people that.”
Mathew Callaghan (he/him) is a senior sports reporter for the Front this quarter. He plans to major in journalism and minor in law, diversity and justice through Fairhaven. In his free time, Mathew likes to write, hike, read and play basketball.
You can reach him at email@example.com.